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Carol Lea Benjamin Books In Order

Publication Order of Rachel Alexander and Dash Books

This Dog for Hire (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Dog Who Knew Too Much (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Hell of a Dog (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lady Vanishes (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wrong Dog (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Long Good Boy (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fall Guy (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Without a Word (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hard Way (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Wicked Stepdog (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Nobody's Baby Now (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Dog Training for Kids (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Cartooning for Kids (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Tricks (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Writing for Kids (1985) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Problems (1989) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Chosen Puppy (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Surviving Your Dog's Adolescence (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Training in 10 Minutes (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mother Knows Best (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Smarts (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Second-Hand Dog (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
See Spot Sit (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Do Border Collies Dream of Sheep? (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dog Smart (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Carol Lea Benjamin is a popular American author from New York best known for her award winning titles on dog training and dog behavior. She made her debut with “The Wicked Stepdog” in 1982 and then in 1996 wrote “This Dog for Hire” the first novel of the Rachel Alexander and Dash novels, her most popular series. Lea Benjamin is herself a former private investigator turned dog trainer and teacher. She blends the experiences from the three careers and a little bit of inspiration to write the Rachel Alexander and Dash mystery novels. Prior to becoming a whodunit author with the “Rachel Alexander and Dash” series of novels, she had been writing non fictional titles and even wrote two books for children. Regardless of the topic of her novels whether it be cartooning, dog training, or running, they for the most part come with her own sketches and easy to follow directions, and candor. At first when she was writing her books, columns, and articles, she never thought anything about how her careers could be connected. It was not until she decided to give a dog a costarring role that it all came together. For her exceptional novels and guides on dog training, she was honored by being admitted into the Hall of Fame of the International Association of Canine Professionals. She currently lives in Greenwich Village with her family composed of herself, husband, and three canines Peep, Flash, and Dexter.

As a little girl, Carol Lea’s mother had wanted her to become an actress given her Shirley Temple like curly hair. But for young Carol, all she wanted to do was to become an author and dog trainer. As such, when she grew up she gravitated towards these careers even though she first became a private investigator before ending up as dog trainer and author. Her fiction thus combines her two fields of knowledge as they feature a faithful pit bull terrier named Dash and a female private detective named Rachel Alexander. “This Dog for Hire” the first novel of the series was the winner of the prestigious Shamus Award. Since then the two protagonists have gone on to solve numerous murder mysteries in some of the seedier locales of New York City. While Lea Benjamin is not that unique in creating a novel series that features a dog as one of the leads in a series, her novels stand out for their realistic characterizations and treatment of the dogs as dogs instead of semi human anthropomorphic characters.

Benjamin set out to write a whodunit series following a woman that fell in love with detective work just as she herself had all those years past. Given that dogs had always been central to many of her stories she decided to gift the lead protagonist Rachel a dog named Dashiell as a detective, only to realize like the two fit together like a glove. In some of the novels such as the scenes on “The Hard Way” and “Without a Word”, Rachel is in charge of the interviewing even as Dashiell the terrier acts as a bridge building up trust for the team when the subject may not be so cooperative. In some of the novels she uses her particular dog skills such as tracking and following scents to lead Rachel to important clues. Nonetheless, the core of the narratives is Rachel’s dedication in her sleuth work that often includes who is responsible for the crime and what was their motive.

Rachel runs a very successful private investigations business and Dash her companion is a remnant of her dog training business days. She had given up her dog training business to go start a family, but when the marriage failed she decided to try something different by starting a PI company. She trained the dog herself so that it could become an expert at sniffing out aspects that the human would be more likely to miss. Dashielle has no super powers aside from being a very well trained canine that does what is expected of him, typically with excellent results. In many instances, it is his intuition and nose that uncovers some of the biggest clues that often lead Rachel down the path to solving complex cases. Having once worked in the police department is also a big help for Rachel as she can still call on her contacts within the force to assist her with tidbits of information she needs from time to time. She brings life to the neighborhoods she walks as unlike may of the modern PIs that investigate mainly through technology, Rachel walks the streets alongside her dog talking to suspects and prospective witnesses alike.

“This Dog for Hire” is the exciting first novel of the Rachel Alexander and Dash series of novels. Rachel and the dog Dash make the perfect team for trying to resolve a murder and find the killer. She is a thirty eight year old woman who is wary and suspicious over everything, and what many men would deem too independent. Rachel had once saved the pit bull terrier that had been abandoned and this seems to be just the perfect time for Dash to return the favor. Rachel and Dash are tracking down a killer and a missing dog without a bark nicknamed Magritte. The dog was the only companion to a struggling artist that had been murdered conveniently under a sign that warned pedestrians against walking down the downtown area alone. All Rachel can think of are the forbidding words even as she walks from a dog show in Westminster to the seedier world of the homeless in Manhattan and the Soho art scene. Just who could she trust in the dangerous urban jungle except maybe for her dog?

“The Dog Who Knew Too Much” is an emotional novel about the death of a woman that was witnessed by her beloved dog. Rachel Alexander is determined to get to the bottom of the case and steps back into the life of the dead woman. The grieving parents to the young tai chi teacher hire Rachel to find out why their seemingly happy daughter committed suicide by leaping off the ledge of her martial arts studio in Greenwich. Rachel walks in the artist’s footsteps wearing her clothes, provoking her enemies, meeting her friends, and studying with her mentor. But what she learns is that the quest for justice and truth can be a dangerous one even with her pit bull terrir Dashielle having her back. The answer to the suicide proves something akin to a Zen riddle, but one thing she learns is that the girl would have never left her dog behind unless someone pushed her off that ledge.

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